Orlando City suddenly found itself missing a center back when Sean St. Ledger was released following a breach of club rules after the match at New York City FC in late July. The position was wafer thin with only extremely young Conor Donovan and Tommy Redding backing up starters Aurelien Collin and Seb Hines, who had both missed time with injuries this season.
GM Paul McDonough went out and found David Mateos in the summer transfer window, adding the 6-foot-3 Spaniard who came out of the Real Madrid youth system. Mateos made his debut Aug. 16 with his first start in a Lions uniform at Seattle. It was an inauspicious beginning, as he pulled Chad Marshall down in the 24th minute, allowing a penalty, but Tally Hall bailed him out.
Over the remainder of the season, until he sustained a leg injury that kept him out of the last few games, Mateos learned how to play with his teammates, got some much-needed Major League Soccer experience, and became a very solid player for the Lions.
Mateos played in six games -- all starts -- for a total of 540 minutes. He finished with one assist and one shot (on goal), and committed only four total fouls. He averaged two tackles, 2.3 interceptions and an impressive 6.3 clearances per game -- good for tops on the team.
The Madrid native averaged 48.3 passes per game and completed them at a rate of 83.8%. His 6.3 long ball attempts per game tied Tally Hall for the team high. Considering he managed only half a dozen games with his new teammates, Mateos put up fairly solid numbers.
Mateos earned our Man of the Match honors with an 8.5 rating in the Sept. 20 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. He was all over the pitch, making tackles, winning balls in the air, clearing danger before it appeared and helping keep Chicago to just four of 14 shots on target over the course of the game. He even got a header on target off a free kick.
Overall, he played well in his final three games, including an assist vs. Sporting Kansas City, so it's a shame that injuries prevented him from seeing more action.
The Lions brought Mateos in at starter money, with a $325,000 salary. He was just starting to get the hang of MLS before being sidelined late in the season. I would expect Mateos to be in the running for a regular starting position in 2016. Of course, with the emergence of Seb Hines down the stretch, it's not out of the realm of possibility that the club could move him to make Hines the starter opposite Aurelien Collin. Then again, Collin makes even more money.
I believe Mateos will be with the club in 2016 and battling Hines for a starting center back position.
2015 Final Rating
The Mane Land staff gives Mateos a composite rating of 7 out of 10. It would be possible to rule his season as incomplete, given that he played in only six matches. However, we feel we've seen enough of the Spaniard to be able to give him a pretty solid grade once he acclimated to living in the United States and getting to know his teammates. At 28 years old, he could be a very important player for the Lions for years to come.